Giving Parents Options: Strategies for Informing Parents and Implementing Public School Choice And Supplemental Educational Services Under No Child Left Behind
September 2007
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Expanding access to forms

The application and enrollment processes can be further eased for parents by not unduly limiting access to application and enrollment forms. Rather than providing parents with only one original form per eligible student, or making forms available at only one location in the district—which may be difficult for parents to access—districts are encouraged to make forms available widely throughout the community. For example, in addition to including forms with the notices that go out to parents, districts have made forms available at eligible school sites and in local libraries, and have put a downloadable version of the form online at district and school Web sites. Districts that do so should clearly specify which parents are eligible to enroll and remind parents to fill out only one form per child.

Involving SES providers (SES only). SES providers can play a key role in spreading the word about SES, and districts should consider giving providers access to enrollment forms to assist in signing students up for services.

Making it work

In giving providers access to enrollment forms, districts should clearly delineate each entity's responsibilities. While providers can play important roles in distributing and collecting enrollment forms, responsibility for processing and approving SES enrollment requests for eligible students will remain with the district. Districts should also consider setting expectations for providers' use of the forms. For instance, a district might instruct providers to distribute forms only while enrollment windows are open and could make recommendations as to the locations most appropriate for making forms available to parents.

At any rate, districts need not flatly deny providers access to enrollment forms on the supposition that it may create an uneven playing field among providers, or on the basis of past improper use of forms in isolated instances. Rather, a district could use access to forms as an opportunity to foster equitability and propriety among providers.

For more information on involving SES providers in parent outreach, see "Relying on SES providers" above on p. 17.

Preserving student and family privacy (SES only). Unless it has obtained prior written consent from parents, a district may not disclose the identity of students eligible for (or receiving) SES to providers or other parties or organizations that may wish to participate in the enrollment process. If a district is not able to obtain such consent from parents of all eligible students, concerns about student and family privacy still need not cause the district to bar the greater community from helping to provide information about SES. Districts may make general information about SES-including general, non-student specific application forms-available to SES providers and others who wish to assist in signing students up for services. To help ensure that information about SES is targeted to eligible students, districts could consider giving providers and others lists of schools at which SES must be offered to eligible students.

Moreover, districts should not prohibit providers from sharing information about their services with the general public, and may choose to assist providers in this effort in order to lessen concerns about preserving student privacy. For instance, a district could offer to mail providers' program literature. In this case, providers could give the district their materials in stamped envelopes, which the district could then address to parents of eligible students and mail on the providers' behalf. The district should take care, however, that its mailing of materials does not in any way constitute an endorsement of any provider.

For more information about disclosure of student information and involving others in the enrollment process, see Supplemental Educational Services Non-Regulatory Guidance, F-8-10, in Additional Resources at the end of this handbook.

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Last Modified: 08/18/2008